2020 Special Olympic committee excited to 'engage community' with start of countdown

The countdown is on as officials in Thunder Bay, Ont., prepare to host the 2020 Canada Special Olympic Winter Games, which will take place February 25-29, 2020.

2020 Winter Games will take place on Feb. 25-29

Officials with the 2020 Special Olympic Winter Games in Thunder Bay, Ont., announced the start of their official countdown along with the theme for the 2020 Games on Wednesday, December 5. (Logan Turner / CBC)

The countdown is on as officials in Thunder Bay, Ont., prepare to host the 2020 Canada Special Olympic Winter Games, which will take place February 25-29, 2020.

Barry Streib, chair of the Games Organizing Committee, said that while a lot of work remains to be completed before the northwestern Ontario city is ready to host, he wanted to "put the community on notice."

"We are very excited to start engaging our community more formally in our preparations for the 2020 Games," he said.

The theme for the Winter Games will be "pure heart," which is all about the Special Olympic athletes and making sure that they have the best time possible.

The GOC (Games Organizing Committee) shared on Thursday, that "Pure Heart" will serve as the inspiration and theme for the 2020 Games. (Logan Turner / CBC)

Ian Patrick Bryan is a local athlete who has previously participated in several other Special Olympic Games. He said that "it means everything" to have the opportunity to compete in front of family and friends in his hometown.

"All you can do is do your best, have fun, try to encourage the others to do their best and participate," Bryan added.

The Games Organizing Committee also announced that Goldcorp Musselwhite Mine will be the exclusive presenting sponsor.

Goldcorp general manager Peter Gula said that he felt "it was important to get involved and make sure that we could make that happen."

While the committee is "grateful" for the support of Goldcorp, Streib said there is still much more to do in terms of getting sponsorships and recruiting volunteers.

He said that they will need between 600 to 700 volunteers to run the event, and is looking for community members to help out.

The 2020 Winter Games will bring over 1,200 athletes, coaches and staff from across Canada to compete in eight official Special Olympics sports.

Athletes will compete to qualify as members of Team Canada and attend the Special Olympics World Winter Games.

With files from Logan Turner